Pro Golf Rangefinders

When it comes to choosing professional golf gear, as in going on a buying spree for the best laser golf rangefinder money can buy in 2019, you should take a step back and a deep breath first, then “do your homework” nice and proper before going spending your hard-earned bucks. And that’s because premium golf equipment doesn’t come cheap. However, since you’re reading this article, it seems that you’ve landed in the right place, because today’s comparison will provide you with a crash-course in regard to some of the best laser rangefinders available in 2019. 

Basically, we’ve already done the research and scouted Amazon for the best offers, so you won’t have to. First things first, let’s see the contenders: the Bushnell Tour V4 Shift, followed by the Bushnell Pro XE, then we have the Garmin Approach Z80 and, last but not least (we hope), the Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized. The next question is:  why spend a little fortune on a gadget when you can play just as well using a cheaper model?

Well, at the end of the day, money talks, BS walks so to speak, and here’s the deal: when all things are equal between two players, if you want to give yourself that “extra-edge” on the battlefield, you shouldn’t compromise in regard to the quality of your gear, i.e. using the best equipment possible may (and will) provide you with a pleasant surprise after all’s said and done.

The thing about professional-grade rangefinders is that they’ll provide you with highly reliable/accurate and quick distances shot after shot, so you can focus at making the most of your game instead of worrying about “telemetry issues”.

Here are the main things to look after in a high quality laser rangefinder: accuracy is king, hence a top-tier laser rangefinder should be capable of delivering 100 percent accurate distances 100% of the time, and that’s the most important function of a rangefinder after all. Features like slope adjusted measurements, scan mode and more make the rangefinder more reliable, usable and provides you with better information to choose the right club. Ease of use is equally important, but when it comes to premium gear, this is not really an issue; next, see what’s the maximum range of a given device, and while you’re at it, check for more features like waterproofing, battery life and, why not, looks. After all, you’re going to pay a few hundred dollars on a gadget, and fashion is always a thing among golf pros. 

Pro Golf Rangefinders Comparison Table

Brand

Magnification

Range

My Rating

Bushnell Pro XE

7x

1,300 yards max
500+ yards to flag

5/5

Bushnell Tour V4 Shift

5x

1,000 yards max
400+ yards to flag

4.5/5

Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized

6x

1,200 yards

4/5

Garmin Approach Z80

6x

350 yards

3.5/5

Bushnell Pro XE

Bushnell is the sacred cow of the rangefinder industry, and their Pro XE laser rangefinder is the one to beat if you’re looking to become “the new kid on the block”. Bushnell-made gear is recognized for being super reliable, durable, easy to use, well-built and impeccably designed. As usual, you’ll have to pay premium prices for premium gear, but that comes with the territory.

Specs:

1,300 yards max range

500+ yards range to flags

Accuracy of 18″ up to 125 yards

7x Magnification

Slope adjusted measurement

Pinseeker with Jolt technology

Slope Switch technology

Dual Display technology

PX7 Fully Waterproof

Tournament Legal: Yes

As you can see from the specs (and the price tag, which is ample), the Bushnell Pro XE is a pricey gadget aimed at delivering elite performance.  However, if you’re looking for a high end laser rangefinder, Bushnell is the “king of the hill”, as their XE Pro comes with all the technological bells and whistles one can dream of. To begin with, the Pro XE boasts the very popular slope feature, which gives you a true-hit location after taking into account how far downhill or uphill the pin is located in relation to the golfer. Even if the USGA rules don’t allow for slope technology to be used by pro golfers, you can easily switch it on and off due to Bushnell’s Slope Switch Technology.

On top of that, you’ll get the famous Pinseeker with Visual Jolt thing, another legendary technology patented by the company, which helps with weeding out background objects such as flagpoles or trees, thus helping you to accurately lock onto the flag/pin. As soon as the device acquires the respective target, you’ll be notified by the Visual Jolt technology that will send vibrating bursts to your hand while a red ring flashes to confirm that you’ve locked onto the flag. Since we’re talking about target acquisition, we must mention Bushnell Pro XE’s extreme speed and precision, which incidentally makes for another proprietary technology called ESP. The Extreme Speed and Precision Technology will deliver ridiculously accurate readings to 18’’ from 125 yards away, while being orders of magnitude faster (up to 5x) compared to other laser rangefinders on the market.  Then, you get Dual Display Technology which allows you to switch between 2 modes via a button located on the rangefinder’s side: a bright-red vivid color display or a sharp black display, depending on one’s personal preference and weather conditions. The XE Pro also comes with 7x magnification and fast focus due to its specially designed ring on the eyepiece. The high quality optics in this state of the art Bushnell rangefinder will provide you with a crystal clear image of the target, and if you’re wondering about durability, the XE Pro features a fully PX7 waterproof (not just water-resistant, mind you) housing with Stable Grip technology (the metal housing comes with rubber grips). If you’re looking for zero compromises in terms of premium look and feel, functionality, features, flexibility and durability, you can’t go wrong with the Bushnell Pro XE.

Pros & Cons

  • 7x magnification lens
  • Accuracy to 18" up to 125 yards
  • Full color display
  • Slope compensation measurements
  • Lightning quick measurements
  • Pinseeker and Visual Jolt technology
  • Ridiculously accurate slope compensation technology
  • Impeccable workmanship, top premium
  • Chassis made of solid metal
  • Fully waterproof (IPX7)
  • Dual Display technology with color toggle
  • Slope Switch technology to make it Tournament Legal
  • 2 year warranty by Bushnell
  • Price!
Bushnell Pro XE Golf Laser Rangefinder with Pinseeker and Visual Jolt technology

Bushnell Tour V4 Shift

Next in line, let’s see about yet another Bushnell laser rangefinder, the Tour V4 Shift respectively. Obviously, since we’re talking Bushnell, it comes as no surprise that the Tour V4 Shift makes for a high end/premium product packet to the brim with the company’s greatest technologies It’s interesting to mention that compared to the Pro XE we’ve reviewed previously, this Bushnell-made device offers similar features, including slope switch technology, but it’s a tad cheaper, which is great. Let’s see the specs first:

Specs:

Ranges from 5 to 1,000 yards

400+ yards to a flag
+/- 1 yard Accuracy
5x Magnification
Slope adjusted measurement

Pinseeker with Jolt technology

Water Resistant

Tournament Legal: Yes

So, what we’re dealing with here is a top notch Bushnell laser rangefinder which is the logical successor of the highly popular Tour V3. The main difference between the two is that the Tour V4 Shift comes with a slope compensation mechanism and improved pin seeker technology. On top of that, the V4 is thirty percent smaller compared to the V3, but Bushnell made zero compromises in regard to performance and build quality. The retail box contains the main unit, a premium hard case for the rangefinder, as well as a silicone protective cover and a micro-fiber cleaning cloth for the lens.

Since we’re talking premium gear here, the Tour V4 Shift comes with all the important features required by golf Pros, including slope and pin seeker technology, just like the Bushnell Pro XE. What’s interesting about the Tour V4 Shift is that the device features a brand new slope-toggle button located on the side of the rangefinder that reads “Slope Edition”, i.e. when the slope-mode is activated, tour officials can see if one is using the respective feature illegally. And yes, that passes for smart design in our books.  And speaking of design, the Tour V4 Shift is really impressive, boasting a compact chassis which fits perfectly in your pocket, and also in the palm of your hand. The workmanship is impeccable, and performance wise, this baby reads distances lightning fast, not to mention the fact that target acquisition is facilitated by the pin seeker technology.  While the practical range of the Tour V4 Shift is approximately 350-400 yards, you can still see your targets from approximately 700 yards, while the maximum range is an impressive 1,000 yards.

Jolt technology is also available, and it works together with the pin seeker thing to deliver unmatched accuracy and ease of use in a faster and smaller package. All these technological bells and whistles make the Bushnell Tour V4 Shift to be the perfect companion on the golf course, as you’ll never have to double-check  your distance readings to be sure they’re accurate.

Pros & Cons

  • 5x magnification lens
  • Accuracy to 1 yard
  • Slope compensation measurements
  • Quick measurements
  • Pinseeker and Jolt technology
  • Ergonomic and compact design
  • Very good built quality
  • Water resistant
  • Easy to use
  • Slope Switch technology to make it Tournament Legal
  • 2 year warranty by Bushnell
  • Not as accurate and advanced as the Pro XE
  • Only 5x magnification
Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt golf rangefinder - pinseeker

Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized

Our next contender is the Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized laser rangefinder. The “stabilized” particle refers to Nikon’s exclusive / patented stabilization technology, which makes the Coolshot Pro Stabilized a great choice if you’re looking for total control in your laser rangefinder. Let’s take a quick glance at the specs first:

1,200 yards max range

Accuracy:

0.75 yards up to 700 yards

1.25 yards from 700-1,000 yards

1.75 yards beyond 1,000 yards

6x Magnification

Slope adjusted measurements

Actual Distance Indicator

Very fast measurements

Locked-On technology

Scan mode of 8 second continuous measurements

Tournament Legal: Yes

Since we’re talking about Nikon, the granddaddy of digital cameras and high end optics, it’s obvious that their Coolshot Pro Stabilized laser rangefinder is an amazing piece of equipment, which is designed to provide precise and super-fast measurements, slope-adjusted distance included. Due to its high-end lens/optics technology, the Coolshot Pro Stabilized delivers clear and bright images, and, to make a long story short, this baby is wicked good at it!

To begin with, this rangefinder is incredibly easy to use, with a well-designed body and intuitive user-interface. There are just two buttons, Power and Mode, and changing the settings is a child’s play, as the Mode button switches between four modes, F1 through F4 respectively, while the Power button gets you through the options of each of the four modes. The F1 mode makes for the measurement display mode, and the Golf mode (default) will display slope adjusted as well as actual distances, but you can go for actual distance only, or actual distance AND height, or even horizontal distance AND height. The F3 mode switches between meters and yards (yards are the default setting), while the F2 mode allows you to tinker with the display settings. The F4 mode turns the Actual Distance Indicator on or off, and there’s a green light led on the front of the rangefinder that flashes when slope technology is not active, an important feature for Tour pros which shows officials that the rangefinder is only used for actual distances (slope mode-off).

Accuracy wise, this baby does a great job, just take a look at the specs (accuracy inside 700 yards is +/- 0.75 yards which is nothing short of impressive), and when it comes to distance readings, the Coolshot Pro Stabilized is literally instantaneous. Nikon actually calls it HYPER READ and claims 0.3 seconds for a distance reading. The advanced optics stabilization works great for reducing vibrations, and comes handy (pun intended) especially in windy weather. The red graphics display works together with the extra-large field of view and the 6x magnification, delivering numerical data and target lines that are easy to read and crisp. Overall, the Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized delivers good value for money and its water/fog proofing as well as its amazing 5 year warranty makes it a strong contender in our lineup.

Pros & Cons

  • 6x magnification lens
  • Impressive accuracy of 0.75 yards up to 700 yards
  • Slope Adjusted measurements
  • Very fast measurements (0.3 seconds)
  • Nikon's high end optics
  • Amazing image stabilization technology
  • Very compact and lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • ID technology with LED confirmation
  • Great scan mode for 8 seconds continuous readings
  • 5 year warranty by Nikon
  • Price
  • Carry case is a bit flimsy
Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized golf rangefinder - great accuracy

Garmin Approach Z80

Last but not least, we have the Garmin Approach Z80. A hybrid rangefinder (GPS + laser), which is praised by many as being the ultimate laser rangefinder, as it comes loaded with 41,000+ golf courses, provides you with a 2D overlay of each shot/each hole, and, on top of that, comes with a built-in GPS module, which is not surprising since we’re talking about a Garmin branded product. Let’s see the specs first:

Hybrid rangefinder: GPS + Laser

350 yards max laser range

Accuracy: +/- 10″ 

6x Magnification

Flag Finder with visual confirmation

Image stabilization

PlaysLike Distance (slope compensation)

41,000+ preloaded course maps

Course maps displayed in viewfinder

Distances to hazards and layups

Distances to front, center and back of green

Laser & Drive distance arc

PinPointer (lining up blind shots)

Auto hole transition

Full color OLED display

Tournament Legal: Yes

As you can see from the tech specs  this Garmin laser rangefinder with GPS is nothing short of impressive tech-wise, as it boasts all the technological bells and whistles one could wish for in a compact and ergonomic form-factor. In terms of real-life performance, this baby will deliver ridiculously accurate and fast readings, within 10” to the flag, up to 350 yards, along with state of the art image stabilization technology, for making it easier to range/find the flag and reduce shakiness.

Speaking of Wow factor, the Garmin Approach Z80 delivers on all counts, guilty as charged, as it’s capable of presenting amazing data in an intuitively designed and compact package, which is also incredibly easy to use considering how complex this gadget really is. There are 3 buttons located atop of the device which control the whole show, but the most important thing to mention about this laser rangefinder is how precise the hole-graphics feature is, and that’s due to the fact that what we’re dealing with here is a GPS based device. Also, the live view option is based not on pure optics, but on video, with almost zero lag while panning, and an image stabilization feature that works wonderfully.

To make a long and boring story nice, short and sweet, the Garmin Approach Z80 harbors a ton of technology inside, yet it weighs a mere 8 oz and boasts an ergonomically designed body. If you can live with the price tag and you’re the tinkering-type, you can’t go wrong with this cutting-edge laser rangefinder.

Pros & Cons

  • Hybrid rangefinder, combining GPS with Laser technology
  • 6x magnification lens
  • Impressive accuracy of 10" up to 350 yards
  • Slope Adjusted measurements (PlaysLike Distance)
  • Laser Range Arc projects an arc in the viewfinder
  • 41,000+ course preloaded and free course updates!
  • Excellent image stabilization technology
  • Feels premium and has a sleek design
  • Waterproof (IPX7 rating)
  • 15+ hours on single battery charge
  • Provides distances to hazards, layups, front/center/back of green due to GPS technology
  • Price
  • Not as user friendly as others
Garmin Approach Z80 Hybrid GPS Golf Rangefinder - compact and easy to use

 

Conclusion

The final question is: what’s the best laser rangefinder money can buy?  After all’s said and done, our top-pick for today is the Bushnell Pro XE, and there are quite a few reasons for that: this Bushnell-made device offers everything a golf Pro requires at a reasonable price-point (at least compared to some of its competitors): excellent overall performance and impeccable accuracy in a premium/ergonomically designed form-factor and, very importantly, you won’t require a PhD in IT to use it properly. The Pro XE is the definition of a high-end no-nonsense gadget aimed at helping you to stay focused on the game and nothing else.

The second place is taken by the Bushnell Tour V4 Shift, which offers almost the same levels of performance/technological gimmicks, but less accuracy. Third place belongs to the Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized, which shines in the optics-department but lacks in simplicity and that old-school modus-vivendi of Bushnell golf gear we all know and love, while the Garmin Approach Z80 comes in fourth place. Don’t get us wrong, the Garmin Approach Z80 is one hell of a GPS laser range finder, crazy accurate and a technological marvel by any metrics, but it’s more of a tech-gadget aimed at geeky golfers rather than a fine-tuned tool designed for better players/ golf Pros.